In the German city of Aachen, the International Charlemagne Prize was awarded to the Ukrainian people for their contribution to strengthening European unity and defending freedom on the European continent.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received the award on behalf of Ukrainians. "Millions of people who are fighting and working for our values and freedom, for our free Europe – all Ukrainians, each of our heroes deserve to stand here and receive this award," he emphasized.
The Head of State emphasized that today Ukrainians are fighting against the Russian aggressor and bringing a common victory over the one who "took the old evil from the pages of the past to destroy the future that the whole of Europe dreams of for its children".
The President of Ukraine ugred to support Ukrainian warriors defending Europe with weapons and to join the implementation of the Ukrainian Peace Formula.
“Everyone who joins our formula actually makes it their own. And I am sure that the Ukrainian formula for peace can become a German formula for peace, a European formula for peace, a formula for peace for the world,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted.
The President emphasized that European unity is becoming a superpower, so it is time to enshrine this unity by deciding on Ukraine's accession to the European Union and defining the algorithm of our country's accession to NATO.
“Everything depends on our unity, on our speed, on our determination to win. So my main appeal to you today is to be worthy of Charlemagne's character! Win,” the President urged.
The award ceremony took place at the Aachen City Hall. The ceremony was attended by representatives of the European Union, including President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, ambassadors of a number of European countries and the United States, members of governments and representatives of the parliamentary corps, representatives of churches and religious organizations.
As noted by Mayor of Aachen Sibylle Keupen, the winners of the Charlemagne Prize in previous years were invited to the ceremony, including former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, President of Lithuania in 2009-2019 Dalia Grybauskaitė, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Ukrainian human rights activist Oleksandra Matviychuk.
In his speech, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that the Ukrainian language had never been spoken by the awardee in these walls.
“Now, when Ukraine is returning to its native European home, I believe that the Ukrainian language will be spoken here on many occasions from now – while recognizing special contribution to the European unity,” he said.
"For the first time, the Charlemagne Prize is being awarded to a President and an entire nation. And it is with great courage that your country is defending itself against such total aggression by Russia, repelling the Russian onslaught with unprecedented strength day after day. The Russian war has brought European nations closer than ever before. United and in solidarity, we stand with Ukraine," Olaf Scholz said.
"Ukraine can rely on our full support - humanitarian, economic and in terms of weapons," he added.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen emphasized that the Ukrainian people are fighting for freedom and peace and are literally ensuring the future of their children and the children of other European nations with their blood and lives.
"President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine know exactly what they are fighting for," Ursula von der Leyen said.
According to her, Ukraine has been proving its strength and courage every day since February 24, 2022, when columns of Russian tanks and thousands of soldiers invaded its territory.
Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki called the awarding of the Charlemagne Prize to the Ukrainian people one of the symbolic examples of Ukraine's integration into the European family.
"Europe will only become fully united when Ukraine joins us as a full member of the EU. I know that this is your dream and this is our wish as well," he said.
"Let's give Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people our full support. This is the only way we can really strengthen peace and security in Europe," the Prime Minister of Poland emphasized.
The Head of State also left a note in the Aachen Golden Book.
The International Charlemagne Prize is named after the founder of the Frankish Empire and the actual founder of the Holy Roman Empire, who ruled the state from Aachen. The award has been given annually since 1950 by the German city of Aachen to people who have made a great contribution to the realization of European ideals. The first winner of the award was the founder of the Pan-European Movement, Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi.
The decision to award President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the entire Ukrainian people with the International Charlemagne Prize was made at the end of 2022 on the initiative of 177 members of the European Parliament, as well as with the support of President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola.